Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gym Sins

There are times where I wish cameras were allowed at the gym.  Today I witnessed a guy wearing flip-flops on the exercise bike next to me and while on the elliptical, the girl in front of me was wearing cowboy boots.  Seriously.  Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

"Who cares?"  my husband asked.  "Me.  I care,"  I sound off.  This is my daily beef.

While I'm at it, you do NOT need to wear make-up to the gym.  Or perfume.  Pit stick, on the other hand, is a must.

I go to the gym to stay healthy, so please cover your mouth when you cough and use a tissue when you sneeze.  While I appreciate the fact that you're not peeing in the pool, I don't appreciate wiping down a soaking wet potty.  Hawking lugies in the pool is disgusting and the offender should be punished.  Please don't spread out all your crap on the locker room bench.  Share.  I really don't need to see you dry your hair in the buff...really, you may have a flawless physique, but you really shouldn't flaunt it in front of us mere mortals.  Furthermore, WIPE DOWN your machines when you're finished (that's what the spray bottles of disinfectant and paper towels are there for, doofus).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Devil

The old adage goes, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me."  If that holds true, what can a drawing do?

In our house we seem to play a lot of "good cop, bad cop."  Not being those who choose the beaten path, I guess we have taken it a step further to, "great dad, devil mom."

Guys, I'm sorry that you see me as the devil.  I hope things change in the future.  Until then, I will continue to make sure you always wear your seat belt, brush your teeth, say your prayers, get to bed on time, do your homework, wake up in time for school and take responsibility for your actions. I promise to do your laundry, make your meals, chauffeur you to all your activities, cheer you on during games, encourage you to be the best you can be, apply liberal amounts of sunscreen, put silly notes in your lunch boxes, wipe your booties, kiss your bo-bos, be your best advocate, and do my best to keep you safe from harm...even if I need to sprout devil horns to get the job done.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart

My eclectic taste in music runs the gamut and after Charlie dropped his latest bomb on me, I found myself mentally replaying Janis Joplin's Take Another Little Piece of My Heart.  Nobody told me that parenting would be easy, but this has been an emotionally draining week.  We were transitioning from summer to school schedule, which means the Las Vegas-style honeymoon was coming to an end with earlier bedtimes, blaring alarm clocks, homework, packing lunches, backpacks and wearing "real" shoes rather than flip-flops and Crocs.  Not only was school just beginning, I was giddy with excitement because swim team try-outs were also being held this week.  Charlie has been swimming solo since he was three years old.  He breezed through the entire Red Cross certification program and, with private lessons from Melissa Cramer (an adorable Army ROTC Tulane graduate), was already working on lifeguarding techniques.  

I began swimming competitively in elementary school, continued through high school, and taught lessons and coached all through my college years.  I love the aroma of chlorine and, to this day, nothing provides serenity like coasting through the crystal clear water of a swimming pool.  The sensible side of my brain is aware that we, as parents, we shouldn't try to live our lives vicariously through our children, but my emotional side often interferes, making me appear to be one of Screwtape's most eager patients.  From the moment Charlie was born, I couldn't help but envision him as a swimmer.

We were discussing the week's schedule and I practically tripped over my words as I blurted out that we'd have to decide which day to try out for the swim team.  Charlie stormed out of the kitchen and I found him face-down, sobbing into his pillow.  "What's wrong?"  I inquire.  "If I told you, you'd be mad at me," Charlie replied.  "Well, unless you tell me what's wrong, how do you know that I'll be mad?"  I ask.  It takes a while, but Charlie finally composes himself enough to tell me, "Mom, swimming really isn't my thing."  Inhale, exhale...deep breaths...count to ten.  "But you're so good at it.  Why don't you want to at least try out?"  Charlie replies, "I can't explain it.  I just don't want to."

Well, there you have it folks.  He just doesn't want to.  Now I feel like sobbing into a pillow.  While I am proud that he feels comfortable enough to be candid with me, why am I having such a difficult time letting him be an individual?

I promise to back off...at least temporarily.  Tennis anyone?

Friday, August 20, 2010

I May Never Cook Again!

Cooking for a family of six isn't easy.  In fact, in a previous post, I've referred to the kitchen as the "room of doom."  While I try my best to prepare healthy meals, we live in a city that offers some mighty incredible food.  Even the best chefs can't resist going out to eat once and a while, right?

One of our favorite neighborhood haunts is Phillips on the corner of Maple and Cherokee streets in the university section of uptown.  Last week, Jason unveiled his new fall menu.  "Decisions, decisions," I thought to myself as I perused the menu:

I gazed like a deer in headlights, salivating, as I tried to decide.  "Come on, make a decision already, " I told myself, but that simply was not going to happen.  Rather than choose one, our group decided to order several dishes to share and compare.

First out was the homemade spinach dip.  Smooth and creamy in texture?  Check!  Delicious?  Check!  The dip is usually served with freshly made garlic toast, but we requested light crackers so we wouldn't fill up too quickly.

Next out was the NEW! Waldorf salad.  Let me say, this salad is absolutely scrumptious!  The chicken is grilled to perfection, the greens were crisp and the bleu cheese pomegranate is divine.  The salty sweet flavors are completely balanced.  Be warned, however, this is a meal in itself and all for under $10!

I had to control myself, knowing that the much-anticipated flatbreads would be coming shortly.  We sampled the veggie, pepperoni and prosciutto-pear.  Phillips is well-known for their creative pizzas, but the flatbreads are out of this world!  The intense flavors made my taste buds dance in delight.  Don't ask me how, but the paper-thin crisp crust holds up to the mounds of toppings.  While all were delicious, I suspect prosciutto-pear will become a best-seller.

Our stomachs could only hold so much.  We'll be back next week to explore the rest of the menu.  I encourage you to give Phillips a try - you will not be disappointed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Friday the 13th

Yes, I know...it's technically not Friday the 13th, but we've been busy here getting ready for our first week of school (and for those of you who know, I'm a shameless procrastinator).  My Mom always said that Friday the 13th (F13) was her favorite day.  She was born on an F13 and passed away on an F13.  Last Friday I was feeling down - really missing my Mom.  How could I help not think of her on an F13?  I looked forward to the day that I would call my Mom for parenting advice (hey, after all, I didn't turn out that bad, right?) and wished that she were here to hold her grandkids. 

My Mom loved teaching, golfing, playing bridge and bird-watching.  She marveled at the Canadian geese that would flock to the shores of the Mississippi River, but her favorite bird was the Cardinal.  She often joked that, once she left Earth, she would come back as a Cardinal.  "Whatever," I'd mutter as I rolled my teenage eyes.  Now, over nine years since her death, whenever I'm faced with a particularly stressful situation, a Cardinal appears in some form or another.  Even if the season or weather fails to cooperate, the Cardinal makes its presence known.  For instance, over the years, the Cardinal has taken form of a stuffed Weebean, card, photo, a thermometer and most recently, a toll-free number that you can dial to hear the distinctive chirp of the Cardinal.

Last Friday, however, proved to be different.  No Cardinal appeared...not in any shape or form.  To make the day worse, the strong thunderstorm knocked my Cardinal thermometer off the porch wall and it shattered beyond repair.

I know it seems silly, but I truly felt abandoned.  Finally the mail came.  All the usual suspects - a few bills, a few magazines, an invitation...whoopie.  From between the pages of one of the magazines fell an oddly-shaped, rather thick envelope; addressed to me from my aunt in Minnesota.  The envelope contained an incredible gift - one much more treasured than a Cardinal.  Two years ago, my aunt had challenged herself with the task of transferring old family slides to digital discs.  I raced to the computer to view the images.  Bless her heart!

There are some amazing photos on that disc, but this one is my favorite...not because the quality is fantastic or that the expression on my face is splendid...it is my favorite because I had never seen it until last Friday.  Happy F13 Mom!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hurricane Preparedness

While others may be filling their bath tubs with water, loading up on canned goods, hitting the ATM for emergency cash and nailing plywood over their windows, this is my preferred method of hurricane preparation:

First, you will need a good blender.

Next, fill half-way with ice.

Then add 2 ounces good rum.  After visiting St.Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I recommend Cruzan.

Add enough Pat O'Brien's hurricane mix to cover ice.

Pulse liberally and pour into a lantern glass.
Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.

When you are finished, your hurricane should look like this:

If you've made it correctly, you won't really care if an actual hurricane is headed your way!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Down With Brown

As we pulled into the driveway two days ago, I noticed a couple of huge boxes on our porch.   I asked my husband what he ordered.  "Nothing," he answered.  Thoughts scurried through my head.  Could it be a gift of some sort?  The proceeds of a sweepstakes?  A major award?  Suddenly I felt like Ralph from A Christmas Story as I investigated these marvelous and mysterious packages.

Ace was also intrigued by these big boxes

 Drat!  The FedEx delivery person had made a horrible mistake.  While s/he had the 508 right, Walnut Street is roughly five blocks away from our house.  I called the local FedEx office.  Ring, ring, ring...then the automated messaging system kicked in.  As usual,  I smugly hold.  Nada.  Next I try pressing 0.  After a few minutes, disgruntled employee answers and informs me that I need to get the tracking numbers from the boxes.  "I don't think so," was my reply, "I am just informing you that your delivery person made a mistake and left boxes here that don't belong to us."  I suddenly feel guilty and somewhat worried that, if someone steals these packages (which commonly occurs in our college neighborhood), we'll be held responsible.  So, my husband dials the toll-free number and basically gets the same result.  So much for customer...er...non-customer, non-service! 

Seriously???  Isn't the recipient concerned about his packages?  Since we have gotten nowhere with FedEx, I call the phone number on one of the boxes.  Ring, ring, ring..."The mail box of the number you have dialed is full and cannot accept new messages.  Thank you."  I next do an internet search for the dude (or dud as I might call him now...why would he pay for expedited shipping and then not complain???) and dial the phone number that appears.  No answer and no voice mail.

So I finally conclude that this might be a scam, but I feel secure in the knowledge that we've fulfilled our moral obligation.  Perhaps we'll be rewarded with a new leather bar stool and the contents of the mystery box from Amazon?  Only time will tell.

P.S.  If you know a Thomas Dimitri who lives at 508 Walnut, please tell him we did our best.  Oh, as for the title of this blog, "I'm Down with Brown," because UPS must, simply must, offer better customer service than FedEx!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

89 and Doing Fine

"It is Tuesday today, right?"  asked Gaga.  "Actually, today is Wednesday," I replied.  "Hmmm, are you sure?" she asked.  "Yes, I had Bible study today," I answered.  Today was a good day so far.  Gaga had gotten herself dressed, which, I'm embarrassed to admit, doesn't always happen.  It's not that I have to help her get dressed, it's just that some days she refuses to get dressed.  Perhaps the worst part of the "dress-less" days are seeing her sit in her dark room wearing a worn-out fuzzy pink bathrobe.  Oh how I hate that bathrobe!  I'm torn between letting it go and being tough.  Being tough, insisting that she gets dressed, requires a great deal of effort.  Letting go, on the other hand, is easy, but then I feel like I'm giving up on her.  Never one to take the easy path, I'm committed and determined to help Gaga battle Alzheimer's disease.

"Wow, would you look at that...it's past noon," she announced.  I had leftovers in the fridge and was ready to prepare lunch for the boys.  We are blessed to have a well-stocked fridge and cupboards.  Gaga seated herself at the table and ordered me to get her some milk.  Even though I was making lunch for the boys, I cringed.  Although she's eighty-nine, she is in great physical shape.  Why can't she pour herself a glass of milk and reheat her own leftovers?  I chalk it up to human nature - why do something for yourself when you can ask someone else?  Perhaps I let a little of my frustration show, because she seems overly grateful by the catering.

When she is finished eating, I inform her that I made an appointment for her to get a pedicure next week.  At age 89, she's informed us that she doesn't need more "stuff," so for the past few holidays and birthdays, we've given her pedicures at favorite spa so she could get pampered.  She stared blankly at me and asked what I was talking about.  I reminded her that, just last week, we'd given her a gift card for a pedicure.  She said, "I'm so out of it.  What's a pedicure?"   I take a deep breath and explain what a pedicure is, and remind her of the Belinda's Spa, the place she has been going to for nearly five years to get pedicures.  "Oh, that's nice, but who's going to do my fingernails?"  she asks.  Now, I've known Gaga for over sixteen years, and not once has she ever had a manicure.

Whew!  I'm off the hook!  The young son just ate the old son's chicken, and I resume lunch duty again.  I never did answer Gaga's question about her fingernails...I'll probably have plenty of time tomorrow when the scenario repeats itself.